For the past two years, Christopher Brown has been capturing the essence of our bakeries and their neighbourhoods in his signature linocut prints. We asked Christopher our baker’s dozen of questions to find out more about our friend behind the ink.
1. What time did you get up this morning?
I’m always awake at 5 and usually up by 6. Then, I like to enjoy the quiet of the morning before going for my daily swim.
2. How do you take your coffee?
I usually have a latte, but sometimes a flat white.
3. What do you usually have for breakfast?
In the winter I love GAIL’s porridge and in the summer, it’s usually fruit and a yoghurt drink. If I feel I deserve it, I will have a pain aux raisin with my coffee, post swim.
4. How do you and GAIL’s know each other?
We met back in 2016 and bonded over our loves of London, art and cake.
5. What’s the first food you remember loving as a child?
Toast. But also licking the bowl when my mother was making cakes – to me it was a heavenly treat.
6. Have you ever baked bread? How did that go?
Once, and not a great success – it was like a brick!
7. What does the smell of freshly baked bread remind you of?
I always imagine a happy woman with a starched apron, and traces of flour on her face.
8. What do you spread on your toast?
9. For us, bread is the fundamental thing. What’s fundamental for you?
Lino. Nearly all my work is made using it.
10. What’s in your ultimate sandwich?
I do love cheese and pickle, but roast beef and horseradish is a favourite and reminds me of my childhood. We always had them on a Sunday if my mother cooked a joint.
11. If we could give you a lifetime supply of anything we make, what would that be?
That’s a difficult question. GAIL’s bread is delicious; I could consume a whole loaf. The carrot cake is heaven, too.
12. We work with three primary ingredients. Six if you include time. What are the main ingredients in your life and work, concrete or abstract?
Hand, eye, mind and humour.
13. What would you do for a living if not this?
I have no regrets about my choice of profession, though as a little boy I wanted to be a history don at Oxford. I would, in a fantasy world, have loved to have been a first class competitive swimmer (then I could have eaten GAIL’s cakes every day).
Working with nutritionist Sam Bloom, we’ve created four new salads for the colder months, focusing on the best of the season’s nourishing ingredients.
Miso Chicken and Forbidden Rice with Pickled Ginger
Inspired by flavours of Japan, the umami flavour from the soy and miso roasted chicken breast is balanced with a citrusy ponzu dressing. The flowering vegetables kohlrabi, radicchio, rocket and spinach were chosen for their slight bitterness, which activates stomach acid production and in turn aids digestion. The garlic and pickled ginger are antimicrobial which promote a healthy gut, and the chicken breast and edamame beans make this salad rich in protein.
Roasted Root Vegetables and Feta with Pomegranate Dressing and Almonds
A celebration of our favourite winter vegetables, we brighten the earthy roasted root vegetables with sharp pomegranate seeds and a creamy tahini and pomegranate molasses dressing. Phytonutrient-rich celeriac, cauliflower, parsnips, carrots and sweet potatoes balance blood sugar levels and make for a satiating meal. Feta cheese is an excellent source of calcium, as is the tahini in the dressing, and the almonds are full of healthy fats and potassium.
Hot Smoked Salmon Fishcakes with Black Barley and Dill Yoghurt
Each element in this salad has been created to complement the rich hot smoked salmon fishcakes, from the piquant chopped cornichons and capers in the black barley, to the creamy dill yoghurt dressing. Protein-rich salmon is a good source of omega-3, which is essential for brain function. High-fibre black barley and kohlrabi help to balance blood sugar levels throughout the day, while the radish and leafy greens trigger the production of stomach acids to aid digestion.
Pumpkin and Wild Rice with Roasted Cabbage and Pecan Pesto
This comforting winter salad is sweet with pumpkin and nutty from roasted cabbage, wild rice, pecans and pumpkin seeds, making for a satiating meal. Pumpkin is high in Vitamin A and beta-carotene, which contribute to healthy skin and our immune system, and the pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc and anti-oxidants. The cabbage is a good source of fibre and vitamins K, C and B6. Wild rice is higher in fibre and protein than white rice, helping us to feel fuller for longer.
With temperatures falling and the nights closing in, we’ve worked with Nutritionist, Sam Bloom to create nourishing winter soup recipes for the coming months.
This warming stew is spiced with paprika and deep with umami flavour from the slow cooked beef chuck and stock. It’s high in vitamin C from the tomatoes, peppers and carrots, and rich in iron from the beef.
Moroccan Lamb Harira
From the Arabic word for ‘smooth’ this soothing soup is traditionally eaten during the month of Ramadan after sundown. Flavoured with anti-inflammatory turmeric, cumin, coriander and parsley, this soup is good for gut health. Red lentils, chickpeas and minced lamb are all high in protein and make for a satiating meal.
Sweet Potato and Coconut
This fragrant soup is inspired by Thai flavours, with a base of lemongrass, kaffir lime, ginger and garlic. Sweet potato is a good source of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A, an essential vitamin and it also has a low glycemic index, helping to stabilise blood sugar levels.
Chicken and Vegetable
Our restorative chicken soup is simmered with aromatic bay, dill and parsley, and with a hunk of French Dark Sourdough makes for a warming winter lunch. The collagen in chicken stock helps to heal the gut lining and reduce inflammation, and the garlic is anti-inflammatory too.
Lentil and Vegetable
This nourishing lentil and vegetable broth is brightened with lemon, coriander and parsley and sweet with seasonal pumpkin. Lentils and freekeh are high in fibre and protein, both of which make us feel fuller for longer. The pumpkin contains high levels of Vitamins A, C and E and potassium, which supports cardiovascular health.
We start by thinking about the time of year; which vegetables, legumes and leaves are in season? It’s autumn now, meaning pumpkin, squash and mushrooms are in season and as the weather gets colder, root vegetables and brassicas will be in their prime.
Once we’ve chosen the seasonal ingredients, we think about how we want the salad to taste: fresh and zingy or warming and robust? For winter, we focus on roasting or sautéing vegetables to concentrate their flavour, whereas in summer, serving vegetables steamed or raw showcases freshness. To create a comforting dish for cooler climes, we choose warming spices like cumin and paprika, along with woody herbs like rosemary and thyme to complement the seasonal vegetables. For brighter spring and summer salads, we turn to soft herbs like basil, coriander and mint.
With the key seasonal vegetables and flavours in mind, it’s time to build the salad from base to dressing. We chose a grain or legume for sustenance that will complement the seasonal vegetables – our winter favourites are black barley and lentils.
For contrasting textures and flavours, we like to pair cooked elements like roasted vegetables, lentils and grains with something raw, like thinly sliced raw vegetables and leaves. Adding chopped nuts and seeds brings extra crunch to every mouthful.
When it comes to protein, our favourites are soft cheeses like feta or goat’s cheese which pair well with autumnal flavours like pumpkin and mushroom. Roasted chicken and hot smoked salmon also work well in winter salads and add depth of flavour.
When making the dressing, we think about whether the salad is bitter, sweet or salty, then use contrasting flavours for the dressing. Choose a base for the dressing like buttermilk, yoghurt, or oil, then add acidity with lemon, vinegar, or pomegranate molasses which bring sweetness too. We love using tahini in our salads as it’s great for binding the dressing and offers a nutty, rich flavour.
Grains can be dressed as soon as they’re cooked, to ensure they absorb the flavour of the dressing, but never dress leaves ahead of eating as the leaves will lose their crunch.
We spend a lot of time thinking about reducing waste and trying to be as sustainable as we can, so we’re proud to introduce our Waste Bread, a sourdough made from day-old loaves.
Our baker, Roz, has been working on the Waste Bread since January, tirelessly tweaking the recipe to get it just right. To make the Waste Bread, we take yesterday’s unsold loaves and turn them into breadcrumbs, before making a porridge-like mixture with them. The breadcrumb porridge is then added to a fresh white sourdough dough, with the waste bread making up around a third of each new loaf. It’s then proved, shaped and baked, and at 750g, it’s larger than our other loaves.
The result is a moist, tacky loaf with a scorched crust and malty flavour, and as the variety of surplus loaves changes daily, each batch will taste slightly different. We like the Waste Bread best thickly sliced and spread with lashings of whey butter, but it’s a very versatile loaf and is ideal for making sandwiches or dipped into soup.
Find the Waste Bread in selected bakeries from the 11th October.
To celebrate Halloween, we’ll be running spooky baking classes for children in selected bakeries. Find out class dates and which bakeries are hosting classes below.
If you’d like your little ones to join us, please visit or call one of our bakeries below and let the team know. Please note all classes start at 4pm.
Monday 22nd October
Tuesday 23rd October
Wednesday 24th October
Thursday 25th October